“We are four video artists from Poland“
ARTIST STATEMENT/ POSTCARD PROJECT OF THE HOUSE OF WORLD CULTURES 2007
“I live in a country, which for 18 years has undergone unprecedented changes in its system. These changes don’t apply to the way of governance or the civil self-administration but they are rather changes in the mentality of the citizens. These changes are neither clearly good, nor clearly bad. Here, influences of regained freedom and accessibility to world culture convene with bourgeois customs. The latter result from a brief tradition of democracy and a fifty-year ban on the free exchange of ideas. This process has become a subject of my artistic work. I document human imaginativeness and zest for enterprise. I take a stand on positive and negative aspects of politics and society.“ (Lukasz Skapski)
The four members of Azorro are the secret heroes of contemporary art in Poland. In their home country, Azorro is affectionately characterised as “supergrupa”. The Warsaw-Krakow based group was founded in 2001 by Oskar Dawicki, Igor Krenz, Wojciech Niedzielko und Łukasz Skąpski, each of them also a star in his own right. In its videos Azorro ironically questions the art system, its actors and institutions. In a congenial way, the artists playfully unmask the mechanisms of the art world. Guised under this apparent harmlessness, they hit the bull’s eye even more unerringly.
In “Portrait with a Curator” (2002), they take a hard sharp look at the relationship between artists and curators. The portraits of the group appear in a video with the cream of Polish curators and critics, challenging the dominant role of the artist-curator who often regards art as a means of self-staging. The person who should actually take care of the art and the artists in the sense of the Latin “curare” becomes himself an object of artistic reflection. At the same time, the art work places the curator in his designated place as an observer from the distance by making him appear in miniature size and lost in space in the video. With this ironic and amicable, only apparently humiliating gesture, Azorro stands in a stark contrast to its colleagues Ondrej Brody and Kristofer Pateau who in “Licking Curator’s Ass” are doing exactly that: They clutch the curator in the exhibition hall, pull down his trousers and take their work title quite literally.
Azorro also picks up politically charged topics. The work “Is the Artist allowed to do anything?” (2002) for example, responds to the art censorship in Poland, which is mainly exerted by conservative politicians and the Catholic church. Here, Azorro sneer at it with banal border violations, spitting on the ground in public, crossing with lights on red and shouting “kurwa!” in a lonesome park, a word corresponding to the English expression “fuck”.
In the improvised two-part video “Everything has been done” (2003), whose text is also available as a play, the artists sit on a bench outside and fish for a new idea for an exhibition. They think of modelling a statue, perhaps of a horse, but this has been done. They think of exhibiting a blank, perhaps a black square, but then they would have to square off with Malevich. They think of a naked gallery, of having a stroll under drugs, of a surgical operation – but all this has been done before. The video is a precise statement from artists who very well know that all frontiers of art have already been crossed, that contemporary art is a remake or is based on repetition, and that artists have to accept the need for recycling.
Azorro even play the role of the naïve underdog from the European East, which at least in the art scene is a part of the past, by addressing locals in Berlin with the sentence “We are video artist from Poland and we are looking for the best gallery.” The art work functions on various levels. Seemingly clueless strangers are asking actually clueless persons. What actually is a gallery? Anyway, the pedestrians send the artists on a trip through the old and the new Berlin. Starting from the Zoological Garden, the place of their arrival, they end up in the shopping mall Galerie Lafayette,before they finally reach the Berlin gallery Eigen + Art.
Another of Azorro’s ploys is appropriation. The artists managed to get hired as extras in the film epic “Karol – the man who became Pope” (2005). They are there to be seen as priests, soldiers, Jews and Nazis. Stills showing them were later blown up to film posters proclaiming “The Supergroup Azorro invites you…”. The epic got reinterpreted, the lavish film production turned into a platform for the enterprising activities of the four artists.
With charming sarcasm Azorro try to question established norms and entice their audience into critical reflection. Gifted acting, naïve gestures and a sense of the absurd make their videos light and entertaining. Their ploy of affirmation and over-identification as a mode of critique has yet to be emulated, and seldom has the critique of art and the art scene been presented more humorous and passionately.
The art group was established in 2001 before taking on the name Azorro. However, for the sake of camouflage the name was changed several times. Azorro is comprised of well known artists also working in other groups. The members are: Oskar Dawicki (born 1971), Igor Krenz (1959), Wojciech Niedzielko (1959), Lukasz Skapski (1958). They live and work in Cracow and Warsaw.
Single exhibitions/ installations
Exhibition / Installation
“Sparwasser”, HQ, Berlin, Germany
Galeria Priestor for Contemporary Arts, Bratislava, Slovenia
Trafo Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
The House of Arts, Brno, Czech Republic
Display Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic
"Everything has been done", Bunkier Sztuki, Cracow, Poland
Paula Boettcher Gallery, Berlin, Germany
Deutscher Künstlerbund, Berlin, Germany
Centre for Contemporary Art Laznia, Gdansk, Poland
BWA Gallery, Zielona Gora, Poland
Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok, Poland
Entropia Gallery, Wroclaw, Poland
Raster, Warsaw, Poland
Exhibition / Installation
"Smart" \Interactive CD-ROM
"Pyxis Systematis Domestici quod Video Dicitur" \VHS cassette
"Everything has been done" - I
"Everything has been done" - II
"Is Artist allowed to do Anything?"
"Portrait with a Curator"
"End of Art"
"The Best Gallery"
"Moving Logo + Pegaz Presents"
"Hic et Nunc"
"We like it a lot"
This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.
(01 August 06 - 31 July 07)